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Michigan sees increase amid national downward trend in abortions

Michigan has seen the highest increase of abortion in the United States. Abortion clinic closures, new regulations, and out-of-state residents may contribute to this trend.
Michigan's rates of abortion are highest in the nation

Michigan's rates of abortion are highest in the nation /Emily McCarty

Abortions in the United States are decreasing on an average of 12 per cent since 2010. However, one state stands out in stark contrast with an actual increase of 18.5 per cent - Michigan.


Those numbers aren’t skewed by fewer lives births (rates) or fewer women of reproductive age (ratios) in the state. Rates and ratios are taken into consideration when looking at national abortion numbers. So what drives Michigan women to defy the national trend?

It may be the closure of abortion clinics. Since 2011, more than 200 abortion restriction laws have been passed in the country, leading to more than 70 closures. Yet again, Michigan stands out. With 12 clinics closed, it has the third highest amount in the United States.

Dr. Rachel Jones, a principal research scientist on abortion at the Guttmacher Institute, says this might lead to more accurate data.

“For example, if some of the providers that closed were not good about reporting abortions to the health department, some of this increase may be due to the fact that the health department is now getting better data,” explained Jones.


Non-resident abortions

Some groups claim the closures have affected nearby states, such as Ohio, and those women are coming into Michigan for the procedure. The numbers say otherwise. Non-resident abortions in Michigan only increased by a little over 2 per cent in the last five years. Ohioans actually saw an increase in the number of abortions by residents.

This doesn’t mean abortions are easily accessible.

For those that don’t have a clinic in their town, women need to travel long distances. This is an added expense to an already expensive procedure,” said Ericca Klimek, the counseling supervisor at the Heritage Clinic for Women in Grand Rapids.


Driving across the state

Jacquelyn Davis, a student in Grand Rapids, needed an abortion but was unable to receive time off work. She drove almost three hours to a clinic in Detroit that was open on weekends. She says she was lucky enough to have a sister to drive her, $600 for the abortion, and a place to stay.

Davis is now a medical student at Michigan State studying OB/GYN healthcare and did her externship at an abortion clinic. She says her experience in getting an abortion influenced that decision.

“I think it shaped my opinion in thinking that abortion should be accessible. The more I’ve learned about it, the more I know I have to do this.”


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